Fusion: Deakin Exhibits Online

Harvey in Victoria and Tasmania

Harvey reached Victoria in September 1854 and collected extensively in Port Phillip and Westernport.  He became friendly with Dr Ferdinand Mueller, the Government Botanist (and founder of Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens) whom he described as “an excellent fellow & good observer”. 11  Mueller provided him with local information, placed his own algae collection at his disposal and promised him duplicates of the land plants he would collect in future.

Harvey came to Geelong in October, where he noted that the streets were still ‘in a state of nature’, meaning ‘knee deep in mud in wet weather & clouds of dust in dry.’  He commented that the countryside around Geelong reminded him of Kildare, but that the ‘shore is ill-adapted for Algae’.12

He continued on to Port Fairy, where he made a considerable collection of algae which included several new species, such as a ‘new Callithamnia & a charming Wrangelia’,13 which he had yet to find the time to properly describe.  However “the most interesting one to botanists will be a new & perfectly distinct species of Ballia, which I propose to call B. Robertsiana (you may tell RB) a name which will include in sound, though not in sense both Robt & Anne!”14  Harvey had previously named the species Ballia after Anne Ball, the sister of his lifelong friend Robert, a zoologist and director of the Museum at Trinity College.15

Ballia specimen 500, (p. 120) collected from Port Fairy, Victoria, which Harvey had previously named after Anne Ball, the sister of his lifelong friend Robert Ball.

He reached Queenscliff in November 1854 where he noted of his hotel that: “the most disagreeable thing is that the sheets appear to be changed only at stated intervals – no objection being made by the chance visitors to sleep in the former occupants sheets – As I arrived in the middle of the week, I found very dirty sheets, such as I did not choose to lie in & so – (not to give offence) I slipped between the blankets & so practiced for the first two or three nights till I observed a change of linen has supervened.”16  Despite the shortcomings of his accommodation, his visit proved fruitful and he collected many specimens, including “one rather interesting novelty – a new species of ‘Sarcomenia’ – ‘completely almost’ uniting that genus with Dasya, but ‘with a difference’ – This is the second species I have added to this genus…” 17  He walked along the beach for three to four miles and was able to view Buckley’s Cave amongst the sandstone cliffs.

Sarcomenia dasyoides specimen 143, (p. 55), a new species collected from Queenscliff, Victoria.

Algae from Ceylon, Friendly Islands and Australia : collected during the years 1852, '53, '54 and '55

The Polysiphonia Hookeri specimen 164, (p.58), collected at Georgetown, Tasmania, is one of the larger specimens in the Exsiccatae.

Harvey left Victoria and arrived in Tasmania in the middle of January, 1855.  He spent about two months there, visiting Port Arthur where he made particular note of the new prison and its ‘silent solitary system’, where none but the worst criminals are kept, and ‘then only for limited periods’.  Particularly refractory prisoners would be locked up in a dark cell, ‘which generally brings them to perfect order in a few hours’.18

He spent about four weeks at Georgetown, near the mouth of the Tamar, ‘busily engaged with the Algae’.  He noted that it was a particularly good ‘Algae-ground’, where the specimens grew to a huge size.  “The Dasyae are commonly two to three feet long; so is Polysiphonia Hookeri, and even longer.”19

He left Tasmania in March, and went to Sydney, where he spent a few days with Alexander Scott, who had retired to an island on the Hunter River with his two daughters.  Harvey noted how clever and accomplished the girls were and that “Their chief amusement is in catching & rearing caterpillars & drawing the moths & butterflies which come from them, & they have hundreds of exquisite drawings of the insects in all stages from egg to perfect growth – Mr. Scott is preparing a book on the Lepidoptera of Australia which (if ever published) will be a very beautiful book”.20  The book was ultimately published and proved to be one of the most beautiful Australian natural history books.21

From Sydney, Harvey visited New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji.  After six months, he returned to Sydney where he spent some time recuperating from an illness.  He then left for Dublin and home, by way of Valparaiso and arrived in Ireland in October 1856.  His world trip was a monumental expedition for the time; his travels and the knowledge he gained collecting and observing in the field were to contribute significantly to his reputation as a taxonomist and systematic botanist of some note.22